Thursday, May 31, 2012

Words from a Child

This is a poem written by a fifth grader in my school. I will not print his name but you can trust me - he's a fifth grader.

Cause sometimes I feel that way
Sometimes I need a friend
Sometimes I am all alone
I don't want to be a loser
Don't want to be bullied, NO
Because that's not me anymore

I'm right
I'm not a lonely
I'm not a loser
I'm not getting bullied anyway

Well, maybe sometimes that may happen
Maybe sometimes I fell bullied
Maybe sometimes I feel sad
Maybe sometimes it felt like they walked away
Because they don't like me

Let me tell you a story about my life
It started in third grade
People always call me words
People called me gay

People called me stupid
They called me gay because I hung out with girls
They called me stupid because I didn't get the answer right
But my mom said don't worry
They called you that because they got made fun of
So they do that to other people just for fun

They still call me gay
They still call me stupid
They still do that for fun
But it's really not fun for me
But I just ignore it now

Monday, May 28, 2012

Quotes on Equality

Gay people are born into and belong to every society in the world. They are all ages, all races, all faiths. They are doctors and teachers, farmers and bankers, soldiers and athletes. And whether we know it, or whether we acknowledge it, they are our family, out friends, and our neighbors. Being gay is not a western invention. It is a human reality.

Hilary Clinton

The truth is that male religious figures have had - and still have - an option to interpret holy teachings either to exalt or subjugate women. They have for their own selfish ends overwhelmingly chosen the latter. Their continuous choice provides the foundation or justification for much of the pervasive persecution and abuse of women throughout the world.

Jimmy Carter

Friday, May 25, 2012

Memorial Day 2012

Highland Park Cemetery in Cleveland, Ohio. Every year people put thousands of flags out and a few days take them all down. It's worth seeing if you are driving down Chagrin Blvd.
God Bless our veterans.  Thank you to each one.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Teachers and Classroom Realities

In a completely rational society, the best of us would be teachers and the rest of us would have to settle for something less, because passing civilization along from one generation to the next ought to be the highest honor, the highest responsibility anyone could have.
Lee Iococca

In a recent Plain Dealer article by Mark Naymik it was refreshing to not detect any agenda or opinion - just the realities of Cleveland school teachers. It mentioned that tardiness is a real problem. One reason is students as young as 13 years old are often in charge of younger siblings. Students show up hungry, distracted by a difficult home situation or event over the weekend. Some are not clean and draw ridicule.

Instead of complaining about things they cannot control, or blaming students for their difficulties, teachers said it was a testament to their character that these youngsters could show up to school every day. They face challenges that most suburban children never face.

When a teacher is angrily told to F--- off, instead of punishing the students teachers often reach out to that child, especially younger ones, to see what is troubling them. One teacher said they try to replace the angry behavior with something else. Although it would be easy to say this is the parents' responsibility, the fact is, when it enters the classroom, it is the teacher's problem.

And teachers DO buy many school supplies for needy students or things the school district no longer can afford.  If there are computers or Smart Boards in the classroom they are there because resourceful teachers wrote grants or raised money for them.

Teachers recognize that, no matter how difficult student behavior may be, school is the only safe place for many children. Teachers are like their family.

Personally, I am often greeted by hugs from younger children who seem to be longing for affection and validation.

The article ended - "Such a dynamic is hard to evaluate and categorize in contracts and through legislation."

I often hear that the answer to failing schools is to fire teachers - maybe they should be supported instead.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Cognitive Dissonance

Cognitive dissonance is the psychological experience of having to hold inconsistent ideas in one's head.

The following is from an interview with political scientist Brendan Nyhan on NPR and subsequent article by Shankar Vedantam.  Fascinating.

When pollsters ask Republicans and Democrats whether the president can do anything about high gas prices, the answers reflect the usual partisan divisions in the country. About two-thirds of Republicans say the president can do something about it, and two-thirds of Democrats say he can't.

But six years ago, with a Republican president in the White House, the numbers were reversed. Three-fourths of Democrats said Bush could do something about gas prices and the majority of Republicans said gas prices were outside the president's control.

Partisans seem partial to their political loyalties over facts!

Last time it was Republicans who were against a flip-flopping, out-of-touch elitist from Massachusets and now it's Democrats!

In 2004 Democrats were outraged that Bush was politicizing the September 11 attacks for political gain and now Republicans think Obama is exploiting the killing of bin Laden for the same reason!

When Democrats hear the argument that the president can do something about high gas prices, that produces dissonance because it clashes with the loyalties these voters feel towards Obama. The same thing happens when Republicans hear that Obama cannot be held responsible for gas prices - the information challenges their dislike of the president.

Nyhan hypothesized that partisans reject such information not because they're against the facts, but because it's painful. That suggested a possible solution:  If partisans were made to feel better about themselves - if they received a little image and ego boost - could this help them more easily absorb the blow of information that threatens their pre-existing views? Researchers found that when people were feeling good about themselves they were more willing to take in information that challenged their pre-existing views.

This answers so many of my questions about the seeming hypocrisy of everything in politics today - we accept what we want to accept and reject what it painful for us - regardless of the facts!!!!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

These are a Few of My Favorite Things

The one blooming' thing in our yard, but it's worth waiting for.
My two favorite creatures - Rowdy the cool canary and Stella the magnificent mutt.
The Rodin sculpture room at the Cleveland Museum of Art.
A deer in my yard.
A happy house plant.